Pink Energy solar company files for bankruptcy leaving customers in the dark
The company’s customers are concerned they’ll be stuck with huge loan payments for solar panel systems that aren’t delivering
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Pink Energy (FKA Power Home Solar), a North Carolina solar energy company, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy with an estimated 25,000-50,000 creditors listed on the filing and nearly $140 million of money owed.
The filing comes after thousands of customer complaints were filed with the company, investigations from multiple Attorneys General in several states, allegations of misleading sales tactics, and malfunctioning equipment failing to provide the power the company claimed.
Pink Energy filed the 3,000-plus page document on Oct. 7, 2022, in the Western District of North Carolina Bankruptcy Court. According to the bankruptcy filing, JP Morgan Chase Bank is owed the bulk of the money with a claim of more than $80 million.
Chapter 7 stops creditors from collecting on debts but ultimately opens the company’s assets and property for sale to pay off some of those debts. Any remaining debts that haven’t been paid are often discharged by the court, meaning the people claiming they are still owed money don’t get paid.
Last month, Pink Energy notified all of its employees it would be closing its doors and laying off its entire staff
Many customers told WBTV and WECT that their solar panels aren’t producing the energy or the savings they were originally promised. Nonetheless, customers still are making monthly payments on loans that were used to buy the systems. In some cases, the loans are upwards of $60,000.
WBTV previously reported a group of attorneys out of Ohio is making a push for Pink Energy customers and their clients to stop making those payments.
Robert Tscholl, Sean Stewart and Stacie Roth are representing dozens of clients who are suing Pink Energy and alleging in their lawsuit the company made “false, fraudulent and misleading representations” during the sales process to customers.
“The system itself, the promises, the over promises, and the overpricing is a common theme throughout all of this,” Tscholl said.
The Ohio attorneys and other legal counsel are seeking to permanently end customer loan payments and recoup money already paid to the lending companies through an FTC opinion called “The Holder Rule.”
What customers can do
The National Association of Consumer Advocates lists attorneys by the state who specialize in consumer legal actions. You can search for attorneys in your state here.
The North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association tells WBTV there are other organizations already stepping up to help Pink Energy customers.
“My first recommendation would be to reach out to one or two other reputable installers within your local area,” Matt Abele with NCSEA said.
Abele said many of the customers’ malfunctioning systems might be covered under a manufacturer warranty and other solar power companies are willing to help.
The NCSEA has a helpful consumer guide for homeowners considering a solar purchase. They also have a list of companies that signed onto their solar code of conduct, which requires high standards in the practice of sales, advertising and installing solar power systems.
“Customers can feel confident that the installers that they’re reaching out to are going to be reputable installers that are doing what they’re saying they’re going to do and installing systems,” Abele said.
“I think just because there’s a few instances of what we would call industry bad actors does not mean the entire industry is like that. There are a lot of really, really good reputable installers out there.”
The North Carolina Attorney General has launched a formal investigation into Pink Energy and other state AGs have already filed lawsuits against the company.
State attorneys general are asking for more consumers to come forward by filing complaints with their offices.
You can learn how to file a complaint with the NCDOJ here and the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs here.
You can find out which state agency where you live investigates consumer issues by visiting this website.
Copyright 2022 WECT. All rights reserved.